The finished product was launched last month by Aunulife under its “Small Boxes” probiotic series, said Bioflag Biotech. Aunulife is an Australian probiotic brand that has been acquired by China firm Ausnutria. Ausnutria is also one of the shareholders of Bioflag.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus MP108 was approved by China’s National Health Commission (NHC) as a new raw material for use in infant or children foods in powdered sachets in April.
The strain was isolated from the faeces of healthy infants. Existing research shows that it could reduce allergic symptoms such as atopic dermatitis and allergic rhinitis in infants and children.
Prior to the approval, probiotics strains that could be used in infant foods were mostly from the US and European companies such as DuPont, Chr. Hansen, BioGaia, Lallemand, Biosearch Life, and Japanese firm Morinaga.
The approval of MP108 strain is believe to disrupt the current monopoly enjoyed by the US and European companies.
The strain could be made into a range of dosage formats, from sachet powder to drops, energy bars, healthy snacks, tablet, and capsules.
It has been used in infant formula products by Australian firm OZ Farm, Joyce Li, international marketing at Bioflag Biotech told NutraIngredients-Asia.
The firm’s stage one and two formulas under the brand Super Platinum contains MP108 – which is said to support infants’ and toddlers’ development and optimal health. The products are sold locally and also exported to China via cross-border e-commerce.
The ingredient was also used in another probiotic product series of Aunulife that addresses digestive issues in children and adults.
The ingredient has been commercialised for more than 10 years.
In Taiwan, local firm Chuang Yi Biotech has been selling ComProbi – a capsule product containing MP108 for relieving respiratory allergic reactions and also supporting the reduction of immunoglobulin E (lgE), which is an antibody produced in response to allergens.
The product is also said to regulate T helper type 1 and type 2 cells which play a role in promoting cell-mediated immune responses.
What are parents looking for?
According to Li, parents are interested in probiotics that could alleviate gut problems and allergic reactions when purchasing products for their children.
“Due to the incomplete development of gastrointestinal function and the insufficient flora diversity, infants and children are susceptible to diarrhoea or constipation.
“Therefore, most parents use probiotics for their baby to improve GI illnesses and allergic diseases and immune regulation,” she said.
Depending on the children’s age, most parents will choose probiotics that come in the form of powder or drops for young children and powder or chewable tablets for older children.
“According to our observation, most of parents will consider the child’s age and preferences when choosing a probiotic dosage format.
“If the child is younger and has poor swallowing and chewing abilities, parents choose powder or drops to reduce the risk of choking. As the child gets older, parents mainly choose powder, chewable tablets, or capsule dosage forms.
“Generally, the powdered sachet is the most popular type for customers, with a small package and a better shelf life,” said Li.
Citing data from Lumina Intelligence, she said that the most common format for probiotics products targeted at children were chewable tablets, but other formats such as powder packets, sachets, sticks, and liquids were more favoured by consumers.
There is also a trend of probiotics being developed in the form of functional foods, such as gummies and chocolates, she said.